Before 4chan, there was Fuck You and Die (FYAD). In the early days of the internet, Something Awful (SA) was a forum where internet comedians honed their craft, people posted grotesque things to shock each other, and memes were born. FYAD was a subforum of Something Awful, a place where the site’s worst impulses flowed freely. Now FYAD is gone, shut down by Something Awful founder Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka.
“FYAD, back in the day, used to be full of funny people producing funny content. There were some incredible threads, and they had their own unique sense of humor that couldn't be found anywhere else,” Kyanka said in an SA post announcing the end of FYAD. “Now FYAD is a [fucking] racist shithole with no redeeming qualities whatsoever...so congratulations for killing FYAD. I hope the iron crosses and swastikas and Hitler threads were worth it.”
“Everyone who was funny on FYAD moved to Twitter. The people who were left were...right wing Nazi people.”
FYAD, and Something Awful in general, were foundational for internet culture, as Motherboard wrote in its oral history of the site in 2017. Kyanka registered the domain in 1999, created a simple front page where he and his friends would post ridiculous and esoteric pieces, and attached a forum to it. The front page was a landing space that embodied Kyanka’s catchprhase for the site: “The interent makes you stupid.” The forum was a place where the extremely online—mostly white, male, nerds back then—gathered in the early days of the internet. It was also a place with a lot of Nazis, some would argue ironically, but that doesn't make it better.
According to Kyanka, FYAD had been on the chopping block for a while. “Everyone who was funny on FYAD moved to Twitter,” he told Motherboard over the phone. “The people who were left were...right wing Nazi people.”
Kyanka said that for the past few years, most of the FYAD posts were the kind of Nazi shitposting seen on 4chan and Twitter that is supposedly ironic but is harmful nonetheless. “I’ve found, in my 20 years of running the site, that whenever you ban an ironic Nazi, suddenly they become actual Nazis,” he said.
Something Awful posters have always been a diverse cross section of people. Its forum for the trans community, in particular, is strong and Kyanka said he’s long been proud to provide an online space where trans folks could post without harassment. But FYAD threatened that and no matter what mods did, the situation only got worse, he said.
Kyanka said that FYAD routinely harassed trans goons (the name SA posters call themselves) and even doxed users, posting their information on other sites. He said that other mods were afraid to enforce rules because they didn’t want to become targets so he had to wade into the online drama. According to Kyanka, he gave FYAD several chances to clean up its act and even locked the subforum for a week. Nothing worked.
“They doubled down. They tried to get around the rules. They started making code names for certain posters,” Kyanka said. “The mods and admins were scared to death...so I’m just like, ‘OK. The end. This is done. All the funny people have left FYAD.’”
Kyanka doesn’t regret the decision and he’s used to dealing with drama. “The internet is just full of so many sites with Nazis in them. I would like to stay as one of the few remaining communities that do not have Nazis in it.”